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Jewish youth take slum kids on trips, teach them skills

Jennifer Jacob, 22, along with three young professionals from the city’s Jewish community, has been spending alternate Sundays for the last two months taking slum children from Kalwa on educational tours and providing vocational training.
By Mugdha Variyar | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 07, 2013 01:17 AM IST

Jennifer Jacob, 22, along with three young professionals from the city’s Jewish community, has been spending alternate Sundays for the last two months taking slum children from Kalwa on educational tours and providing vocational training.

The group is volunteering for a community project that offers extra-curricular opportunities, such as trips to museums, art galleries and recreation spots, as well as organises educational and vocational sessions for slum children in the city.

The Indian branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a Jewish NGO, started the four-month internship in March in collaboration with the Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM), an initiative run by Israeli resident Jacob Sztokman.

GPM started a project in Kalwa last year, where Jews from abroad came to volunteer their services to help meet the nutritional needs of slum children and provide employment to women. With the JDC’s collaboration this year, the project is open to young Indian Jewish professionals. “This is real Tikkun Olam [repairing the world],” said Jacob, a management graduate.

So far, the team, comprising four Indian and four foreign Jews, has taken 50 slum kids to the Upvan Lake in Thane and the Nehru Planetarium in Worli, and has held various sessions for personality and soft skills development, and team-building. “This is meant to encourage Jewish youth in the country to be involved in service for the poor,” said coordinator Salome Abraham.

The project is run with the aid of a local Jesuit-run NGO, Reach Education Action Programme (REAP). “These kids do not have the opportunity to go out to such places, and this programme helps to give them the exposure,” said Kenneth D’souza, programme development officer, REAP.

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